Deadwood Wiki
Advertisement

Magistrate Claggett is a recurring character as well as an antagonist during the first season of HBO's Deadwood. He served as a major antagonist for the season's second half.

He is portrayed by Marshall Bell.

Biography[]

Judge in the trial of McCall

After Jack McCall cowardly killed Wild Bill Hickok, he must stand trial. Magistrate Claggett from Yankton is summoned to be the trial's judge.

At The Gem Saloon, the trial begins, and McCall's defense-concocted by his attorney-is that he was avenging the death of a brother. The proceeding has not gone far, however, before saloon owner Al Swearengen pulls the judge aside for a little talk. Concerned that the trial will interfere with the possibility of Deadwood's annexation, Al presses the judge to declare McCall innocent. Upon reconvening, his honor sends the case quickly to the jury. They quickly return a verdict of innocent. McCall is set free.

Possible annexation of Deadwood

The United States government is poised to make an agreement with the Indians to annex the Black Hills-- and therefore Deadwood. Swearengen is to meet with Magistrate Claggett to discuss the matter. "It'll be different after the annexation, that's all," Al says, nervously. When the magistrate arrives, he lays out the thinking of the legislature. Should the treaty be accepted, the rule of the land will be "you're on it, and you improve it, you own it." Of course, nothing is that simple, and a steady supply of bribes will likely be required to grease the wheels of progress. Also, an ad hoc government will need to be established, to show that there is something to build on.

Extortion of Swearengen

During the meeting with Swearengen, Claggett also mentions that an arrest warrant has appeared in Yankton accusing Swearengen of a murder in Chicago. Dealing with that will require $5,000. Al pays the magistrate this sum to make the arrest warrant disappear. However, some time later Silas Adams, the magistrate's bagman, visits Al at The Gem Saloon and tells him that the magistrate requires another $5,000. Silas asks Al what message he wants to send to the magistrate. "Tell him no more envelopes, and go fuck himself," Al says. Adams, who understands that Swearengen is not just posturing, tells him that people in Yankton believe he is the person to deal with in Deadwood. And, he adds, "It's just the magistrate that can earn on that warrant. No one else knows about it."

The two agree on a deal to get rid of the magistrate, after haggling over the price-with Al offering $2,000, and Silas thinking $20,000. "Take the two," Al says. "You gotta believe you're opening the door to your future. And making hundreds of thousands back and forth between here and Yankton."

Arrival with General Crook

A small band of cavalry officers ride into town. The party includes the Yankton magistrate, Claggett, and General Crook, who is leading a force seeking reprisals against the Indians for Little Big Horn. As the officers make arrangements to give the troops a respite in town-but not one that will lead them to "balk at re-harness," warns the general-Al seeks a moment with the magistrate. He learns that the bagman Silas Adams has not conveyed his message to the official, so Al is forced to deliver it himself. On the issue of additional bribes to quash the murder warrant, he can "go fuck himself".

Unsure if the double-crossing Adams has double-crossed him, Al makes it clear to Clagett that more is at stake than a few orders. But the magistrate is unfazed: "You can't murder an order, " he says. As the meeting breaks up, Al apparently disagrees. "The fucking magistrate don't go back to Yankton alive," he says, to no one in particular.

The next day, magistrate Clagett arrives in the Gem's office with Silas Adams, it is time to sort out who sides with whom. In short order, Adams cuts Clagett's throat and removes the warrant from the magistrate's pockets. Claggett's corpse is presumably thrown with Wu's pigs for it to be devoured.

Appearances[]

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
The Movie
Appears Appears as a corpse Appears in a flashback
Advertisement